How to ground difficult conversations


“How the Meeting House Engages the LGBTQ Community”


Bruxy Cavey followed up his Thursday evening plenary address with a Friday morning workshop that was set up as a Q and A session to answer questions about how The Meeting House, the Toronto-area congregation where he serves as teaching pastor, engages with people around questions of sexuality.

Those attending the workshop posed a wide variety of questions, predominantly focusing on how The Meeting House has worked at engaging with the LGBTQ community. Bruxy began by addressing the classic confusion between acceptance and agreement, noting that often we feel like full acceptance will be misconstrued as full agreement. Challenging that assumption, he noted that brothers and sisters can fully disagree about a particular issue, and yet still accept one another as family.

For this reason, The Meeting House has been intentional about reaching out in radical love towards those in the LGBTQ community, while at the same time being clear that this acceptance does not signify theological agreement and holding firm to their stance that sexual intimacy is properly expressed in a marriage between one man and one woman.

In the context in which I work, encounters with people who identify as LGBTQ are a regular part of my reality, and as an MB pastor I have often wrestled with how to care for them while at the same time acknowledging that my beliefs when it comes to the subject of sexuality may be different than theirs.

Bruxy’s encouragement not to equate acceptance with agreement was helpful to me in this regard. After all, we often have relationships with people with whom we disagree. Is there anyone with whom we agree about absolutely everything? Even within the group gathered for Study Conference, it was evident that we do not always have consensus even within our Canadian Mennonite Brethren family. But it’s easier to live with those points of disagreement when we have a relationship within which we can have those difficult conversations.

In the weeks leading up to the study conference, I was talking with a friend who happens to identify as LGBTQ. She was asking me where I was going, and I was hesitant to explain that I was going to a conference about God, Sex and Church. In spite of my fears, we were able to have an interesting conversation about the subject. She wanted to know about the books I had been reading as I prepared for the conference. We talked about my hopes that we would be able to create a safe space for honest conversation, and that when we disagreed with one another, we would do so in a respectful manner.

It was a starting point for what I hope will be a lot more conversation in the future – conversations about sexuality, what it means to follow Jesus and about a host of other challenging subjects.

All of those conversations are more easily had when they are grounded in love first.

As we seek to follow Jesus, we have the example of one who readily accepted people from many walks of life – eating with tax collectors and sinners, and touching those who were said to be unclean. By reaching out in love to those within the LGBTQ community, we are emulating this example.

—Kathy McCamis is a graduate of MBBS-CMU and serves as community pastor with House Blend Ministries in Winnipeg.

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